Lincoln is not the only brand to make use of designer labels to make certain models seem more special or tasteful or sale-able. But it’s still surprising (maybe a little disappointing) that they decided to be very unimaginative when they announced their new “designer” trim level of the new-for-2013 MKZ sedan.
The Black Label is meant to compete with BMW's Individual series and Mercedes-Benz Designo versions that offer buyers different paint and trim for more money, just to look a little different. Lincoln says the car will offer "ultra-premium materials" and a "personal and integrated customer experience" when it goes on sale at the end of next year. Again, something they used to do all the time with a little help from fashion houses.
It’s another sign Lincoln has decided to break with its past and not use fashion designers to influence special trim levels of their cars, a tradition that spanned from the 1970s up until the early 2000s with a slew of big names.
To help break down that history of Lincoln labels, I’ve found the six designer labels that have been attached to Lincolns through recent-ish history. Don't think I know anything about big fashion labels, but see if these names and cars look any more special than the Black Labels. Should Lincoln have found an established name to identify their special MKZs?
Photo: Flickr/Bob Sharp
Bill Blass editions were offered on Lincoln Marks V, VI and VII, making it one of the designer labels with the longest history with the cars. His name, when applied to clothes, was usually attached to what marketing people would call sportswear. I'm picturing Bill Blass hoodies. Regardless, a Bill Blass Lincoln was kind of like an everyday-wear Lincoln – nothing too ostentatious but still looked appropriate at the country club valet station. Sounds like the Black Label wants to be more than that.
Photo: Lincoln Mark VII Club
It doesn't sound as ridiculous as a Gucci-embossed Fiat 500, but putting the Versace label on a big American car does seem a little odd. Offered on the 1984 and 1985 Mark VIIs alongside the Bill Blass model, it does share the notoriety of being offered with the 2.4-liter BMW diesel engine that absolutely no one bought. Versace with a diesel – now that's an interesting ensemble.
Some of the most fame the Givenchy label had before being put on the Mark Vs and VIs was in a string of Audrey Hepburn movies such as Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Somehow I don't see Ms. Hepburn in a green Givenchy Mark V, though. At least the scheme was a little more tasteful when applied to the Continental sedan – even if that model had a hideous rear end.
The longest lived of all of the designer labels, the Cartier is probably most synonymous with the Lincoln Town Car, as it was slapped on as the top-trim of that car for more than 20 years.
Cartier is closely associated with watches, so it makes sense that the Cartier Town Car’s most distinguishable feature in later years was a clock. Still, it’s one of the most tasteful names to be applied to a Lincoln and perhaps the one that lent it the most prestige. As far as restrained elegance goes, it’s a good name.
A Valentino Edition Lincoln Continental, offered between 1983 and 1985 on the bustle-backed generation of the car, was a strong endorsement to make up for the controversial styling of the car. Given his clientele, you have to picture the Valentino Continental being appealing to, again, Audrey Hepburn, as well as Jackie Onassis and people who hoped it was similar to buying a Valentino dress.
Emilio Pucci is closely associated with wild, kaleidoscope-type prints, so his name on the '70s Mark series should've been more outrageous in my book. The Pucci edition is one I had no idea existed and is probably the most obscure in Lincoln history. It might've sold better if there was a kaleidoscope pattern on that fabric roof. Or it might've looked like a Plymouth. The world will never know.